1. Be clear on who you are and deliver on it
Setting yourself apart from the competition is essential to ensuring your DTC channel is successful.
If you already have a product in the wider marketplace, you’re already off to a good start, as people will hopefully know what it is or understand how it works (although don’t assume that’s the case!). However, they’ll need a reason to switch from buying it from a retailer to buying it on your website.
There are also positives to DTC being your only channel, such as avoiding the hassle of passing along your goods to distributors and overseeing the entire branding and packaging process. But in this case, you’ll need to create awareness around your product, which often means investing significantly in marketing.
In both scenarios, differentiating your value proposition from others is vital, whether providing unique expertise, offering perks, or having company values that resonate with your customers. Your mission is to find what makes you stand out and give people a reason to come to you for what they need…and not someone else.
2. Meet and exceed expectations
Your brand is the customer’s experience. And while the marketplace gives you reach, the highest expectation of your brand will be in DTC. Unfortunately, this is a struggle for many businesses, as more than half4 of brand owners find it hard to keep up with consumer and customer expectations.
You must first be consistent in tackling this and not only meet but exceed your customers’ expectations. If your company exists across multiple channels, you must deliver the same message and quality of service across the board.
You must ensure that every aspect of your DTC channel is convenient for your customer, from the checkout stage to the returns process, and that everything runs smoothly. A seamless value chain is just as important as the actual product that the customer receives, and any hiccup within their purchase journey could make them switch to another brand.
3. Build loyalty
The value of your brand is in its ecosystem – specifically, its product and access. You have a greater chance of building loyalty among your customers if you can’t be found anywhere else but your own channels.
And while loyalty can be earned by collecting points or membership rewards, the best way to gain it is by meeting your customer’s needs and making them feel valued. From delivering a product as expected from the first purchase, addressing a customer’s concerns when something goes wrong, or having a purpose, your customer believes in. As Salesforce data reveals, 88% of customers say the experience a company provides is as important as its product or services5.
One of the main advantages of DTC is access to first-party data. Pivotal in helping to create experiences tailored to your customer’s needs, but nine in ten6 brand owners consider access to data as central to building their brand.
DTC brands don’t always have the scale and awareness that comes with retail, so building loyalty to guarantee repeat business is essential to your success. Remember though, people remember how you made them feel, more often than the thing they bought – showing up through the full buying process and beyond is essential to create advocates, not transactions.
4. Creating long-term value
Although there are advantages to the traditional marketplace, DTC gives brands control, agility and the freedom to innovate. But while it may look simple at first glance, it’s important to remember that one misstep could, at best, lose you a customer or, at worst, damage your brand’s reputation for good.
That said, conquering DTC needn’t feel like an impossible or arduous task. If you start by pinpointing what makes you unique, you can tailor your online presence around your identity and start drawing attention away from your competitors. And when it comes to running your channel’s operations, partnering with a platform that can manage the end-to-end process will help save you time and money and ensure a positive overall experience for your customers.
In DTC, long-term success comes from gaining accurate insight into your customers’ needs and keeping them happy. They are no longer transactions but part of a community—and what could be more valuable than that?